Today’s community spotlight features founding SCS member, the one-and-only… Marisa!
A passionate advocate for self-discovery, authenticity, and soul-healing, Marisa loves working with children, standing up for educational equity, and shares an inspiring story of transformation that you’re going to love reading.
It’s a story of strength and healing as Melissa opens up about the challenges she’s overcome — coming out as a queer woman in a conservative upbringing, her personal battles with anxiety and addiction, and her empowering journey to sobriety and self-care.
Looking for self-care tips? Oh… Marisa’s got ‘em!
She shares eight powerful, mood-boosting affirmations, a clever trick for honoring the sacred pause, her favorite YouTube workout, heaps of inspiration for your own self-care routine, and her reflections on two very different kinds of yoga.
The original mind behind “I hold space for my light,” Marisa shares so much wisdom in this beautiful and vulnerable story of finding self-love —and holding it close.
Thank for opening up to share your story with us today, Marisa. We love you!
Location: Seattle, WA
I live in Seattle by way of Orange County, California. I love working with children and have done so in my wide and varied career. I am going back to school after many years and am at the halfway point to a BA.
I met the woman of my dreams and was married last year in an intimate backyard ceremony at my parent’s house. I am a passionate advocate for self-discovery, authenticity and soul healing as a road for recovery, as well as an advocate for educational equity especially among early education.
A central component of Marisa’s personal journey:
I am a queer woman who has had to overcome stigma (I was raised Catholic, then segued into conservative Christianity – all before the age of 18).
It took a long time for me to come out, then when I did I dealt with crippling self-hatred that manifested itself in addiction patterns and failed relationships — not just romantically but to myself and my family.
Something you may not know about Marisa:
I was a tap-dancer for seven years, then played the French horn for seven years (I can still do a mean Buffalo step – especially to the song “White Christmas”).
Favorite Self-Care Books:
- “The Body is Not an Apology” – Sonya Renee Taylor
- “The Year of Magical Thinking” – Joan Didion
- A good Poirot mystery from Agatha Christie
- And the magical realism of Murakami fiction – especially the stories with talking cats
Marisa’s Self-Care Journey
What initially drew you to self-care?
3 years ago, I was sober-curious.
I knew things weren’t going well in my job, my life was chaotic and I was tired all the time. I caffeinated in the morning, smoked cigarettes all day and when I got off work couldn’t wait for a cocktail and a joint. I didn’t know how to regulate myself in the slightest!
I finally had some rock bottoms and knew the drinking had to stop — and that is really where my journey began. I started trying to figure out how to feel better. Connected. Loved.
Getting sober for me meant stopping a lot of things, but not knowing what to replace them with. I spent 6 months going to work then white-knuckling at home, afraid to go outside because I might walk to the corner bar.
Then I had been sober for a year and suddenly I was actually starting to feel better. I got married, got on a roll with school, and still craved more. I reconnected with my family and friends. Got married to an amazing person who is kind and loving.
But I was still missing a crucial connection with myself. Then on a whim, I decided to do Your Year for 2020.
When did you start and what did that look like for you?
Once You Year started, that’s when things started to change. I loved the structure of a self-care checklist. I loved the coaches that we got to hear from. I loved the idea of having a small group of women in the area to connect with over text.
I did meditation with Deepak Chopra, I started journaling again. I found I enjoyed carving out time for yoga (and let me tell you, yoga while sober and hydrated is totally different than yoga hung-over with nothing but gatorade and ibuprofen in your system).
Then COVID happened, and self-care classes started with Danika. From the beginning I saw a difference. I was able to handle the stress of change and the pandemic better because I could look forward to seeing Danika’s face in the morning telling me to breathe and connecting me with a community that reminded me I wasn’t alone.
I was lucky enough to be able to use the time at home for reflection and learning more about myself and my relationship.
It has caused me to be a better partner, a better student, a better community member and a person who chases radical self-love at every turn.
Do you have a regular self-care routine?
I love doing the self-care classes and I love using the self-care checklist during times I carve out for self-care.
I will usually wake up, start coffee, drink water while coffee is brewing, do some stretching and get into class with Danika or Gaby. On Thursday mornings, I’ll set a timer for 40 minutes and use the checklist.
I also love creating, so on the weekends I love to use scheduled white space time for creating — writing, or art or video-editing.
What are some of your go-to self-care practices?
My go to practices are to do a meditation – either a Deepak Chopra, or one from Insight Timer.
Then journaling – I like journaling on topics from classes from the week – anything that is still on my mind that needs another look, or anything that is on my heart.
Then I love to pull a tarot card from my deck.
In the evening I love to integrate yoga (especially Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube), skin care routine and creating space by cleaning up the apartment for 20 minutes. Even if I don’t clean everything, I feel like I’ve given my environment some love.
What is the biggest area of growth that you are working on at the moment?
I am working on building financial success and using an area of my life that I’ve always felt intimidated by as a growth opportunity. I am doing a Darcie Milfield 11-week seminar through her Green Bites Project.
I first heard about her during You Year, so when the time came for this to happen I was ready and felt like I am trusting a smart savvy friend, as opposed to just a financial coach.
What is a struggle that you’ve transformed into a strength?
I used to get so angry! Just right away, I’d start to see red. I would always let things get under my skin and wouldn’t be able to communicate my feelings without just blowing up.
Getting aligned with myself has allowed there to be space for calm, peace and reflection. You know how people say to count to 10 before you say anything? That’s actually something I do now!
I feel because I’ve allowed peace to come into my life, I can allow people to see who I really am without a chip on my shoulder.
What lights you up? When do you feel at your highest and/or most inspired?
Woooo! Connection, community, that extrovert life, children and building relationships.
I feel I channel my highest self when I am able to really see people for who they are and not what I want them to be. When I allow my intuition to be the loudest voice in my head instead of doubt and uncertainty.
When I say no to gossiping or griping and instead funnel frustration into a brisk walk and deep breathing. When I make choices that I know my future self will appreciate. I love the freedom that Self-Care Society has given me.
I feel like my toolbox of resources is bursting at the seams and I know how to use the tools!
Marisa’s Self-Care Pro Tips
What tips would you give someone new to self care?
Investing in yourself is worthwhile!
My life is worth it being examined and cultivated. Self-love, self-acceptance, self-awareness — learn how to give yourself the tools to be your own best friend.
Learn to see how to see how your input affects your output. This work is sustainable and life-affirming.
Any self-care hacks or micro-habits that you’d recommend to others?
Starting the day with water and stretching tells me that my body is cherished and worth giving time and value to.
Taking a deep breath, relaxing my jaw and shoulders whenever I remember tells my body that it is worth being listened to and nurtured.
The more I listen to my intuition for little things that have immediate gratification reinforces the idea that I can trust myself and I have ideas that are worth following.
What do you do or tell yourself when you need a little boost?
- Progress not perfection.
- Monday’s don’t have to suck.
- Today is a great day to have a great day.
- What’s the best that can happen?
- Thank you for the contrast.
- I am a healthy person with healthy habits.
- You are worth it.
- You are worthy of love
Any SCS takeaways so far?
Radical self-love is infectious and caring for myself in a way that respects my body and soul and spirit has been the most powerful thing I could have done for myself.
Marisa’s Future Bio
Marisa is an activist, lecturer and scholar. Her charisma and energy has allowed her voice and ideas to be heard and followed.
Her advocacy of equity in education and leadership of navigating social justice issues for early educators has been received with enthusiasm. She has spearheaded programs to educate caregivers in the most accessible way possible.
Marisa enjoys providing online education and live lectures and coaching educational directors with how to integrate equitable practices into their businesses.
As a life-long learner, she has collected multiple master’s degrees and is considering a doctorate program at UCLA.
She lives in Palm Springs, CA with her partner and their 2 corgis and a golden retriever named Steve.
They enjoy traveling, relaxing in their pool, visiting family and spending their summers on Whidbey Island, Wa.
Marisa’s Message to the SCS Community:
I love you and you’ve done more for me than I could ever repay.
Thank you for being there for me when I needed you the most.
Thank you for sharing your light with us today, Marisa.
Please join us in celebrating Marisa on Self-Care Society (@marisa-bottolfson) or Instagram (@mastamas), where you can get to know her (and Stacy) even better… and shower her with a little extra love this week.